“…there is no new thing under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9
We live in rapid changing times…and whatever the old way was, it is now obsolete. This is especially true about computers and churches. While computer technology is progressing, churches seem to be regressing. Every religious survey reports that major denominations are losing members. On the one hand, we hear about mega churches increasing, yet membership as a whole is dwindling. May I insert here that growth or lack of it is not a barometer for spirituality or dedication to truth. I do not understand any Christian that would not want to see growth in numbers. That’s what soulwinning is all about, adding numbers to the body. I think most of our churches need some change. None of us are where we should be in our prayer life, Bible knowledge or witnessing to the lost about Christ. It also seems reasonable to change that which is not working.
God put in writing everything we need to know about living and relationships. He, alone, taught us about churches, their purpose and their program. For 2000 years the program on church planting and church continuation has not changed. For the same length of time, man’s carnal nature has not been satisfied with either God’s program or His methods. As the wisest man said,
“Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” Ecclesiastes 7:29
Inventions are devices to improve things and man keeps trying to improve on God’s word. Many inventions have improved our standard of living, but no new thing has improved God, His program or His methods.
David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22) had to learn this lesson with much sorrow.
When instructing Israel on the building, upkeep and movement of the tabernacle, God gave specific orders. The most important piece of furniture in the tabernacle was the ark, which represented the very presence of God. Wooden staves, overlaid with gold, were to be passed through rings of gold attached to the top of the ark and carried by the priests (Exodus 25:10-14.)
The Philistines, Israel’s enemy, stole the ark after defeating Israel in battle. Where the ark was a blessing to Israel, it became a tremendous problem to the Philistines (1 Samuel 5-6.) In trying to rid themselves of the ark, the Philistines derived a different method of transporting the ark. They built a cart on which to place the ark and hitched oxen to pull it. This method was easier on everyone and certainly more appealing than being hand carried. The oxen carried the ark home to Israel (1 Samuel 7:1,) but no one paid much attention until David became king and went to bring the ark to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6.)
In haste, David did God’s business with the Philistines’ (a form of the world) methods. He ignored God’s instruction and supplied a new cart to bring back the ark (v. 3.) Please keep in mind that on the surface, David’s new cart was a more sophisticated improvement over the cruder method that God had given to Moses. In reality, who would care just as long as we got the ark to Jerusalem? What was important was getting the ark, not how they got the ark, right? Wrong!
The wrong method resulted in one man dead, David getting mad, living in fear and the postponement of the ark arriving home. When David changed back to God’s method, he got the ark home with no casualties or delay (v. 13.)
Don’t tell me that we are just changing the methods, but not the message. I have yet to see one change without the other being affected. What is wrong with God’s methods in the first place? Are they more cumbersome, like the ark? Does it take more strength and endurance to carry the ark instead of putting it on a cart and letting the oxen pull it? I can tell you that God’s method takes more dedication and sacrifice; more time spent praying, studying and witnessing. Rest assured that good soulwinner’s never make good golfers.
Do today’s churches need to change? I believe it does, but not in the direction they are changing. I know of no church that could not be more dedicated, more giving and more productive. It is not the methods that need changing; it is the people, you and I. It is time we quit acting as if God is too old-fashioned for the contemporary world; that His methods are obsolete and today’s pastors are smarter than He is.
May the Lord help us to renew our efforts to honor Him and His words.
“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” Luke 21:33
Keep Looking Up!